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Lessons to be learned from Sbu Ndebele’s corruption case

Corruption, more specifically corruption linked to tenders, is a serious concern.

While it is incumbent on us – both ethically and under law – to respect the maxim that everyone must be presumed innocent until proven guilty, it is heartening to see that the corruption case brought by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) against former transport minister and South African high commissioner to Australia Sbu Ndebele will not be withdrawn and will be in court this week.

The saga surrounding allegations that Ndebele was involved in a R10 million bribe from Tasima, a service provider contracted to run the electronic National Traffic Information System (eNatis) during his tenure as a minister, have been going on for too long.

Ndebele, out on R10 000 bail, and his co-accused – including former transport department director-general George Mahlalela, Zakhele Thwala, Tebogo Mphuthi and Justin Ncube – are to appear before the Commercial Crimes Court in Pretoria on Thursday, though NPA spokesperson Luvuyo Mfaku is on record as saying the prosecutor would ask for a postponement to consider representations submitted by Ndebele’s lawyers.

Corruption – more specifically corruption linked to tenders – is a serious concern. Especially when vast sums of public funding is potentially put at risk. And if this is accepted – as it is by the long-suffering citizens of this country – it becomes just another illegal tax of already sorely tested pockets.

If it is successfully proven that this is not the case, there are still lessons to be learned in going through the exercise.

Especially – as we have pleaded in the past – in terms of more accessible transparency in the intricacies of the tender process. There is also the inescapable thought that the courts are not primarily there to teach governance.

Ndebele deserves his chance to speak just as much as do his accusers. We wish fervently for a rapid conclusion to the whole issue.


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